Lying About Her Past
Q: Me and my girlfriend have been together for close to two years. We've always agreed that honestly is the most important thing in a relationship, and we talked a lot about our past relationships when we first got together. She told me she'd only ever had sex with one guy in high school. Recently, though, we were back in her hometown and I met some of her old friends. They were kidding her about how wild she was in those days. She later admitted to me that she'd slept with a bunch of guys. She said she didn't want to tell me because she was afraid I'd be upset. I'm not mad about all the guys, but I am mad that she lied to me all this time. I'm not sure I can get over the feeling. Am I right to leave her? Will-19
Dr. Pamela: No one likes to discover that they have been lied to. But the reality is that people in relationships lie. I'd suggest shifting your focus from her lying to her reason for lying. She was afraid of rejection. She downplayed her sexual history because she liked you and didn't want you to dump her. And she was right, because that's exactly what you are planning to do now. She's not the only person in this relationship who is not being totally honest. You say you're not mad about "all the guys" she's slept with. But the truth is they are a big part of your hurt and anger. Your situation highlights a problem that emerges in most relationships: People think that their partner's lies are worse than their own. Everyone holds ideals about love and romance, which never match reality. But holding onto unrealistic notions does not help a relationship in the long run. Expectations that cannot be fulfilled sooner or later leave one or both parties feeling inadequate. You will be doing yourself and your girlfriend a favor by acknowledging that relationships are not perfect. And sometimes half-truths and lies can lead to conversations that can bring people closer.
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Advice for Her
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.